Five ways to not succeed at interview

Drain on Middle Meadow Walk

Could your career go down the drain because of poor interview prep? Photo: D. Gillie

1. Don’t review your application. It’s best to go into the interview forgetting everything you told the selectors so that you can get caught on the back foot by every single question.

2. Don’t refer to concrete examples from your experience to provide evidence that the selectors can use in their assessment. Instead, use plenty of assertions without evidence.

So, instead of replying:

“The best example of my commitment to get things done was helping set up a new student magazine about European sport and outdoor recreation.  As part of the PR/Advertising team, I raised £1000 in corporate sponsorship which enabled us to fund the first 3 issues.”

Opt for:

“I think I’m really good at getting things done.” *

3. Don’t communicate your interest about the position, the organisation and its mission. Make sure the employer knows that you could be applying for any old job doing any old thing for any old organisation. Who cares?

So, instead of saying:

“In a sea of English language education providers, your organisation really stands out for its commitment to student-centred learning, innovative use of technology and the core values of quality and hard work. I’m passionate about teaching English and, as you can see from the experience outlined on my CV, I’d fit right in to your way of working and supporting English language learners.”

when they ask you why you applied for the job, go for:

“I was attracted to the salary and the generous amount of holiday.”

4. Have absolutely no idea why you are the best candidate for the job and why the selectors should choose you over anyone else. This definitely makes their job very easy.

5. Don’t use any of the support like practice interviews, books, pamphlets, DVDs and other resources your Careers Service offers to help you prepare for the recruitment and selection process.

Harsh? Well, now that I’ve got your attention…

It may sound corny, but I am immensely proud of being your careers adviser (I’m American. We say these things. And often mean them.). I want you to succeed. Recruiters want you to succeed.

Being invited to interview means that, on paper, they think you can do the job. Interviews give candidates and recruiters the opportunity to meet each other and find out more. If you’ve prepared well for an interview it should feel more like a discussion than a test. A certain amount of nerves are inevitable for some of us but preparation can go a long towards mitigating interview distress and help you to at least appear relaxed (And, anyway, recruiters expect you to be nervous. They might be nervous, too.).

Find out more about how I and my colleagues can help you with the recruitment and selection process.

*Hypothetical answers based on real feedback from employers.


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